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The Irish Borderlands

The border between Northern Ireland and Ireland was established through the laws passed by the British Government in 1920 and 1921 which created Northern Ireland and partitioned the island of Ireland. This political border encloses the six counties of Northern Ireland – Fermanagh, Tyrone, Londonderry, Antrim, Down and Armagh – and is an international boundary between Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland contains six of the nine counties of the old province of Ulster. The Ulster counties of Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal were not included in Northern Ireland. The border runs along sections of the boundaries of the counties of Londonderry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Armagh, Down in Northern Ireland and the counties of Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth in Ireland.

The historical origins of the creation of the border are complex and contentious and its impacts has been profound. Its existence is inseparable from the intensely contested question of the political status of Northern Ireland. For many the border is a potent symbol of this political issue. But for those who have lived on or near the border, it has also been about the experiences of dealing with its practical impacts in everyday life. These effects have changed over time with the political and economic shifts that have occurred over the decades since it was first established. As a line on a geopolitical map the border looks static and uniform. But the border has been present in the landscape in different ways and been experienced differently in different parts of the borderlands. We use the term borderlands to describe the areas directly affected by the border in a variety of ways rather than as a fixed or rigidly defined zone.

This Borderlands website provides a set of resources for exploring the histories, geographies, meanings and experiences of the border. Follow the links to explore the different dimensions of the border.